Several years ago, my wife and I, Barbara, were visiting in downtown London. We came across the home of Charles Dickens, the man who wrote A Christmas Carol, one of the greatest stories ever told. And I’m going to quote him today and describe how he described Ebenezer Scrooge.

Here’s how he said it. “Oh, but he was a tight fist hand at the grindstone Scrooge. A squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner. Hard and sharp as flint from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire. Self-contained, solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features. Nipped his pointed nose, and shriveled his cheeks, stiffened his gait, made his eyes red, his thin lips blue, and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say, ‘My dear Scrooge, how are you? When will you come to see me?’ No beggars implored him to bestow money, no children asked him what time it was, no man or woman ever once in all of his life inquired the way to such and such a place as Scrooge is.”

Charles Dickens went on to described Scrooge of the past, present and future. Scrooge of the future Dickens described in this way: “Scrooge crept towards it, trembling as he went, following the finger, read upon the stone of the neglected grave his own name, Ebenezer Scrooge. ‘Am I that man who lay upon the bed?’ he cried upon his knees. The finger pointed from the grave to him and back again. ‘No spirit. Oh no, no.’ The finger still was there. ‘Spirit.’ He cried, tightly clutching at the rope. ‘Hear me, I am no more than man I was. I will not be the man must have been but for this intercourse. Why show me this? If I am past all hope, why show me this?'”

You know the rest of this story. Ebenezer grabbed the spirit’s rigid black arm, pled for his life only to awaken clinging to his own bedpost. Seeing his blanket and curtain still in place. He began to rejoice that he was alive after all. Dancing about on one leg as he tried to pull on his pants, Scrooge was giddy with the knowledge that he still had time to change. He still had time to bless the people whose lives he had humbugged for so many years. The story ends with him dancing through town to the Cratchit home. Along the way he patted children on their heads and gave a huge gift to equally startled citizens trying to raise money for the poor. And finally blessing Bob Cratchit and his family with not only at gigantic turkey for dinner, but also a gigantic raise at work.

Like Scrooge, you can still choose to hope not only for yourself, but also for your family and everyone else in your world. The choice is yours and the time to choose is now. If, like Scrooge, you have become aware of your ways, there is still time to change. There is still time to repent and live differently. Choose change and choose hope today.